If you’re at all prone to coughs and colds, have asthma or other chronic diseases or are over 65, you’ll be well aware of the challenges the flu season brings with it. Peak time for flu comes between December and March, but outbreaks aren’t unknown as early as October and as late as May, and this year is likely to be a lot more complicated, with the ongoing pandemic stretching health services and making accessing care more difficult.
In these difficult times, it’s well worth everyone taking some extra steps to try and avoid the seasonal flu when it comes around to help lighten the load and ensure help is more easily available for the people that really need it.
Getting the Jab
In the UK the flu vaccine is available for free to a large portion of the population, to help protect the most vulnerable. Over 65s, care residents, carers and those with certain chronic diseases (including respiratory issues like asthma and systemic issues like kidney disease) can all claim a free vaccine through the NHS.
It’s still worth looking into the vaccine even if you don’t fall into these protected groups: you can book an appointment through many high street pharmacies and get protected in a ten minute trip out during your lunch break: the low price, sharp jab and minor inconvenience could more than repay themselves in the long run.
Protecting Yourself When You’re Out and About
The Covid-19 pandemic has made clear just how valuable it can be to take some basic precautions to protect yourself when you’re out working and shopping and, most importantly, on public transport. It may well be worth investing in a set of flu protection masks now. Remember, reusing masks without washing them means they lose their ability to restrict the transmission of the virus so you need to make sure you have either a good supply of disposable masks or enough reusable ones that you can cycle through them between uses.
Regular handwashing is another key tactic that slows the spread of many diseases through the population – not just Covid! If you’re careful to wash your hands after journeys, after shopping and regularly at work achieve two things: firstly you limit how many viruses you spread around to the surfaces you touch. Secondly and perhaps more important personally, you eliminate viruses on your hands before you have a chance to touch them to your mouth, nose or eyes and get infected!
You can wash with soap at home or in the office, but it’s well worth keeping hand sanitiser on you for when you’re out and about!